The considerable growth recorded in the energy landscape in Nigeria in the last few years, would not have been achieved without the outstanding contributions of women in the industry. Their involvement in the decision-making at the board rooms and other top echelons of the country’s economy has been impactful and commendable.
On the occasion of the 2023 edition of the International Women’s Day with the theme “Embrace Equity”, EnergyDay identified some amiable and outstanding women, who are responsible for gender balancing in the energy sector, business, and economy, who have also brought vibrancy and genuine innovations to areas where they have been entrusted with leadership positions.
These energetic women have achieved this leadership status by dint of handwork and determination, having exhibited exceptional qualities and outstanding competencies, traversing the delicate borders between motherhood and involvement in business and in some cases, the commanding heights of the economy.
One thing that is common among these powerful women, is their utmost desire to use their influence to address Nigeria’s energy poverty, mentor young ones, and guaranteeing reliable means of livelihood to mothers.
Making our list in this special edition are: –
1. DR TINUADE SANDA, EKEDC
Dr. Tinuade Sanda, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, is the first female to occupy that office in the history of the company.
Dr. Sanda who is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Institute of Management Consultants, US and Institute of Professional Financial Managers, London, joined the EKEDC in 2013, as the Chief Treasury and Taxation Officer, and moved on to become the Chief Accounting Officer before emerging as the company’s MD in March 2022.
In the last one year, Dr. Sanda’s exceptional zeal has shot EKEDC to the top as Nigeria’s leading distribution company. She has not only sustained the contributions of her predecessors but has further championed the company’s reputation as a customer-centric energy electricity distribution company, delivering optimal electricity to its customers.
One of her greatest innovations is the strategic and regular engagement with customers under the company’s franchise network.
Dr. Sanda has, in twelve months, aggressively reduced EKEDC’s Aggregate Technical, Commercial and, Collection losses, increased energy reliability and availability in all the network areas, and also expand the supply source of EKEDC with the recent agreement the company entered with Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Paras Energy, and other embedded generation options with the aim of boosting power supply to its customers.
EKEDC under her watch recorded the best Aggregate Technical and Commercial Collection (ATC&C) losses of 15.69 percent and 16.97% in July and August 2022, the best ever in the company’s history.
She is also instrumental in the company attainment of about 70 percent of a total of 654,000 registered customers under her company’s network as of Q2,2022, were metered.
Dr. Sanda’s EKEDC achieved the highest billing and collection figures of N14.9 billion and N13.09 billion in EKEDC history, both in December 2022. The company also took receipt of 150 transformers to ease burden of overloading under its network.
One of her greatest priorities is the improvement of the condition of service for workers and welfare staff, as most of the company’s workers recently received their promotion letters with better pay packages.
2. FOLAKE SOETAN,IKEJA ELECTRIC
Another leading woman in the power sector is Folake Soetan, Managing Director/ Chief Executive officer of Ikeja Electric.
Since March 2020, having taken over the affairs of the company as the MD/CEO, Mrs. Soetan has put her best into reinvigorating and rejigging Ikeja Electric in a way that has impacted the delivery of services to customers.
Through her focused-oriented leadership, out of 1,298,000 registered customers under IE’s network, more than 60 percent of the customers have been metered.
She has also initiated programmes aimed at improving the revenue of the IE, reducing its commercial losses, improved customer satisfaction, developed and implemented strategies to increase revenue growth through service delivery.
In 2022, IE emerged as the best DisCo and the most gender-diverse utility company at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Power Sector Awards.
Ikeja Electric has under her watch recorded a lot of firsts power sector, including priority given to gender diversity where diligent men and women in various capacities shared equal responsibilities in various departments.
3. DR. JOY OGAJI, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, APGC
Another outstanding woman in the power sector is Dr. Joy Ogaji, Executive Secretary of the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), a legal practitioner with over 17 years of progressive managerial experience in various aspects of commercial/corporate law such as Power/Energy, Oil and Gas, Property and Regulatory matters.
Dr. Ogaji holds a first degree in law (LLB) from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt; a Bachelor’s degree in law (BL) from the Nigerian Law School; a Master’s degree in environmental law (LLM) from De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.
Dr. Ogaji practiced Commercial and Corporate law both in Nigeria and in England and Wales. She was the Head of the Regulatory and Transaction Monitoring Unit of the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP) as well as the legal adviser.
As the Executive Secretary of APGC, she has aggressively pursued the general interest of the operators of thermal, gas, renewable sources, and hydropower generating companies in Nigeria.
To her credit, the Nigerian Electricity generation companies have enjoyed fair and balanced attention from the government and other critical stakeholders in the power sector, leading to the efficiency in the sector.
4. OLAJUMOKE AJAYI, ASHARAMI ENERGY
Olajumoke Ajayi, Managing Director of Asharami Energy, the upstream arm of Sahara Group, is another leading woman in the oil and gas industry.
She manages the affairs of Sahara Group’s energy conglomerate, leading Asharami Energy’s operations across Nigeria, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.
Having successfully exhibited exceptional abilities in the oil and gas industry for over two decades, Olajumoke rose through the ranks to become one of the first female Managing Directors in the Nigerian upstream industry.
Jumoke holds a Bachelor’s and a Master of Science degree in Applied Geophysics and started her career with Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (ExxonMobil). Before joining Sahara Group, Olajumoke also worked in Degeconek Consulting, Peak Petroleum Limited, and Centrica Resources Nig. Ltd (British Gas).
Having gathered technical experience in 2D/3D Seismic acquisition & processing, land and onshore seismic data interpretation, drilling, and production, Olajumoke certainly has a full grasp of the entire industry operations.
She has shown a tremendous capacity for leadership, spearheading the exploration team that successfully drilled and delivered Asharami Energy’s first 3 wells.
As the Managing Director, she has delivered and continues to sustain the company’s first oil production among other successes.
She is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) and she is a past Vice President of NAPE, the first female to hold the position in 40 years.
5. MRS ELOHOR AIBONI, MD SNEPCO
Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, in 2021, became the Managing Director (MD) of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO), the multinational’s Nigeria deep-water business.
She was the first female to lead the Shell exploration company in the more than six decades of the company’s operations in Nigeria.
Prior to her appointment, she was the Bonga Asset Manager responsible for overseeing end-to-end production delivery for Nigeria’s pioneer deep-water Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, Bonga, which had produced over 900 million barrels of oil since the beginning of its operations in 2005.
She was also the Asset Manager for Sea Eagle FPSO in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, where she led production delivery for shallow offshore.
Ms Aiboni holds a master’s degree in integrated environmental management from the University of Bath, UK, and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Benin, Nigeria.
She is passionate about developing talent and leads a diverse team that strives to simplify work processes and pursue continuous improvements. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the CEO HSSE Awards, Upstream Impact Award, and the Asset of the Year Runner up in 2019, in the Shell Group.
6. AMY JADESIMI, LADOL
Amy Jadesimi, is the Chief Executive Officer of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), a petroleum service company based in Lagos.
The former Goldman Sachs analyst is an Oxford-trained medical doctor who worked at Goldman Sachs and attended Stanford Graduate School of Business prior to working her way up the ladder at LADOL, which was founded by her father Oladipo Jadesimi in 2000.
She oversees the growth West Africa’s largest logistics and engineering facility operating in a free trade zone.
LADOL is utilizing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, expanding service to sectors outside the oil industry and creating tens of thousands of jobs.
The company under her leadership has turned a site reclaimed from a swamp and an industrial wasteland into a $500m (£300m) port facility to support offshore drilling operations, including ship repair, maintenance, engineering and construction.
She also served as an Archbishop Tutu Fellow, working to reduce maternal mortality. Among her many accolades, Jadesimi was named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
7. FOLORUNSO ALAKIJA, FAMFA OIL LTD
Folorunso Alakija, is the Vice Chairman, Famfa Oil Limited, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset. Famfa oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras.
As the VC, she is in charge of the company’s strategic planning and day to day administration.
The Agbami field contains 1 barrel per day of recoverable reserves and has been in production with Famfa Oil’s partners since 2008.
Till date, Agbami is one of the largest and deepest offshore reservoirs in West Africa.
Famfa Oil under the management of Alakija has invested in the pan African space of the oil industry either through investment of other similar assets or the development of its core capabilities and skills that are required to be a world class company.
8. DAMILOLA OGUNBIYI , SEforALL
Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.
Ogunbiyi is committed to closing energy access gaps, demonstrating to the world that a clean energy transition is possible, and working to give everyone the opportunity of a prosperous, dignified, and healthy life.
Before joining SEforALL, Damilola Ogunbiyi was the first female Managing Director of the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency and responsible for successfully negotiating within 18 months the Nigerian Electrification Project which is a USD 550m facility (World Bank USD 350m and AfDB USD 200m) to rapidly construct solar mini-grids and deploy solar home systems across Nigeria.
She also conceptualized the Energizing Economies Initiative, which provides sustainable and affordable off-grid power solutions to economic clusters, including markets and industrial clusters in Nigeria.
Under her leadership, SEforALL has entered into working relationships with over 200 partners, supported over 90 countries globally, and secured commitments of more than $600 billion in energy finance.
This has been achieved through programmes such as Universal Energy Facility, Powering Healthcare, Women and Youth at the Forefront, Cooling for All, and Clean Cooking; and innovative initiatives such as UN Energy Compacts, Energy Transition Plans, Universal Integrated Energy Plans, the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI), and the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative (AREMI) among many others.
Mrs. Ogunbiyi has grown SEforALL’s global influence and country support providing clear pathways to accelerate progress towards universal energy access, ending energy poverty, and advancing the global just and equitable energy transition.
She is a global leader and advocate for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a focus on SDG7, which calls for access to reliable, affordable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
9. RUKAIYA EL-RUFAI
Rukaiya El-Rufai, Partner, Sustainability & Climate Change services and Public Sector Risk Assurance Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria (PwC Nigeria).
She is the first female from the northern region to be elevated to such a position in a ‘big four’ accounting firm.
Prior to her appointment, she was PwC’s, Associate Director of Risk Advisory and Head of Sustainability.
Rukaiya is a result-oriented and value-focused leader. She studied accounting at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, graduating with second-class honours, upper division.
She was certified by the UK-based Financial Training Company and graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a Master of Public Administration in 2007. She also holds a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Germany.
As the Partner of Assurance Services, she oversees functional sustainability and climate change issues within the public sector, as a window for inspirational leadership
She is also in-charge of the development of holistic and stakeholder-centric strategies and roadmaps for sustainable development.
10. CATHERINE UJU IFEJIKA
Catherine Uju Ifejika, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Britannia-U Group, a group of oil and gas companies. Her business bought a stake in a major oil and gas field, Ajapa. The reserves, according to Britannia, are worth $4.3bn.
She is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State, where she obtained Diplima in Law and LLB in 1985. She rose steadily in the energy industry to become a leading figure, having worked at Texaco and Chevron.
She became the CEO of Brittania-u Nigeria Ltd in 2007. The company’s operation covers the entire oil exploration to production, refining, trading, supply and distribution. The company is involved in Upstream Exploration and production, Shipping and sub surface Engineering.
Mrs Ifejika is the first woman to become Chairman and CEO of an Upstream Exploration and Production Company in Nigerian.
In less than six years of managing Britannia U Group, Ifejika formed seven other companies, including Data Appraisal Co Ltd, Nexttee Oil and Gas Trading Ltd and Brittania-U Ghana Ltd.